Wednesday, June 29

Expat Fear: What is keeping you from living abroad? Crime & Safety

When it comes to picking ourselves up and moving to another country, fear is one of those things that shouts out to us. Although it can overwhelm us, it is not necessarily a negative to feel fear. It’s an instinct we were born with and for excellent reason. If you are an impulsive person like me, then you know why I sometimes welcome fear. When I first decided I wanted to travel and live as an expat, my first thought was to sell everything, throw caution to the wind and head out on some wild adventure. Luckily, a little fear intervened on my behalf and diverted a disaster. It made me stop and think of the what ifs. Made me slow down and find the answers I needed to hear and prepare for, even if they were exaggerated worries. 

In this article we will discuss the fear of feeling safe. As we have seen in this series, there are many things we begin to worry about when moving to another country, especially one not considered “first world.” One of the first and most often asked questions of living in Central America is of crime. We hear stories on the news of drugs, gangs, violence, crooked politicians and police. We don’t even equate the news to a specific country or area, only that it is somewhere in Central America. And guess what? It’s absolutely true! In central america there is a city called Chicago which has all of that. There are some on the west and east coast of America too!

All right, you got me. You thought we were talking about the small countries in Central America, right? We are, but if you live in Japan and watched nothing but crime shows about the U.S. they may scare you to travel to anywhere in North America. Central American countries have their share of crime, just as any other place. You need to know and will know before you go, where not to travel. My wife and I have traveled all over the world and found that most fear of crime lives in our on minds. Learn and know the area you are traveling in and live just as you would in your home country. I don’t walk down the street at night alone in Houston, Texas and I wouldn’t do it in Belize City. 

Most crime in third world countries are crimes of opportunity. Don’t set your wallet on a counter and turn your back. Don’t leave an expensive mountain bike unattended and don’t be leaving bars in seedy parts of town on Friday night for a stroll down a dark alley. I think you get the point.

No matter, where you move to. Whether it be a large city or a quaint small village, listen to the locals and other expats. People still have a way for looking out for each other and even in large cities will give you advice of where to go and not to go all over the world. Use your brain and your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right then move along. Our senses have been honed over our human experience to know when something is out of order. In the end living in towns, villages and cities around the world are not much different from one another. Visit and come to you own conclusions about the areas you are researching. In most cases, you will feel more confident after you see for yourself.

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